Self-Determination Day

Did you know today is Self Determination Day? Yep. On April 6th in 1984 the Cocos Keeling Islands became a democratically-run self-governing territory of Australia. Which got me thinking. What an amazing name to commemorate a day like that? It’s not called Independence Day, or “Our Right to Run this Place” Day. It’s called Self Determination Day. Isn’t that powerful? Empowering. So expansive. It’s about reaffirming what got them there in the first place. Their self-determination. And it’s a guide as to how to get to their next step. It’s like a stepping stone, rather than an end goal. And that’s life: our goals aren’t destinations. They are sign posts that we are headed in the right direction towards something (hopefully) much greater than ourselves.

And then it got me thinking some more. What does self-determination look like? And, one of the first examples of determination I read struck a chord with me. It said, it’s about deciding to run a marathon without asking anyone their opinion. Exactly! Like the morning I decided to see how far I could run, so I ran, and I ran, and yes I am starting to sound like Forest Gump. But that’s just it. I kept going. And when I returned home I was curious to see how far I had run. 19 km. Just like that. No warm up. No 5 week training course. A few weeks later I was running a half marathon. What would have happened had I rung a trainer or friend to ask if I should run 19 kilometres this morning if I had never even run a kilometre before?

What makes up self-determination? Freedom, authority, support, responsibility and confirmation. It’s having that freedom to choose. Some of us are lucky enough to have many elements of freedom. Others need to imagine a world of freedom in their mind until it actualises. It’s having authority or control over certain aspects of our life. We need support along the way. We need to exercise responsibility as we determine our pathway, and more importantly when we achieve success. Finally, when our path is confirmed by those around us we have self-determination. 

It brings positivity. Self-determination affects us as individuals, our families and our communities, the more we practice it that more likely we are to make the right decisions.

 How do you achieve it? Know what you want. Set those goals. Aim for the stars. Know your strengths. Play to your strengths. Design strategies to reach your goals. Work hard. Persevere. And remember to bounce back.

And this brings me to my dearest year 12’s. You all know I adore you. I see shining pathways ahead that you probably haven’t even imagined yet. I’ve been hearing ATAR, SHMAYTAR, SACS, SHAMCKS. Will there be exams? Will we have to do it again in 2021? This was our last year to be together, what about camp, what about captaincies, what about our common room, I have no routine, I need to see my friends.

Self-determination my friends. Self-determination. Forget the rule books. Forget the old ways that say we need to play the game and study for the ATAR, get the most amount of points we can. Let’s go back to studying because we can. Because we are privileged enough to live right now. Let’s exercise our brain muscle which will put us in good stead for tomorrow. Determine your own pathway. Carve out something different. It’s your turn to shine. Which other year 12 student in the global history of the world has had a chance to write their final year of school with this amount of freedom, this much opportunity for authority over their own schedule, this much support from their schools and the worldwide community, this much responsibility without a formal structure, and this level of global confirmation when your achievements can be witnessed by millions and millions on tik-tok, or insta ☺. You are the self-determiners of 2020. Don’t wait for the old-school system to catch up. Run with it!

PS I am also talking to myself and the other 8 billion people in the world